On a personal level, the idea of their being a limbo terrifies me to my core. Even contemplating such a fate makes me feel rather unsettled, and for some time now put me off picking up Limbo the game. After some pep-talks and a few swigs of whiskey I downloaded Limbo from the PlayStation Store, sat down like a big boy and played through it and as expected it unsettled me greatly, but in the most enjoyable way possible.
The first thing you notice about Limbo is the lack of color, an essential part it plays in bringing forth the severity of the situation. You’re not alive buddy, it’s a pit stop where your fate-after-fate is decided, so we can only assume color is excluded. You do ask yourself how it works, a game that features very little light, color, sound, or stimulating visuals, managing to tell a story and communicate with the gamer.
Being a 2D puzzle platformer, Limbo brings you through a host of black-and-white chapters, taking control of a harmless boy who has awoken in a dreary and dank forest. You have no idea how you got there, why you’re there, or where to go. Once you start to make your way through the unknown land you begin to realize it isn’t as friendly as it is beautiful.
The pacing of the story can be frustrating, giving you a solid emotional connection during the opening chapters of the game, but the latter part of Limbo changes the environment greatly and snips that emotional tether a tad. However, what you lose you gain, with the less emotionally attached areas bringing more difficult and intriguing puzzles. Some can be extremely testing, giving you a short period of time to complete them before death comes knocking; oh did I mention you die a lot.
Developer Playdead didn’t hold back, there’s plenty of gruesome ways to perish in Limbo, be it by well-hidden bear traps, rising waters, that damn spider, even giant hotel signs. Thankfully checkpoints are well placed, and you won’t find yourself too far from your previous location of failure. If you do manage to hold out and finish the game then you’re in for a treat, the ending is the best part and justifies the all the countless deaths you suffered along the way, so let that be motivation.
Away from gameplay Limbo does avail of a leaderboard, but with the only statistic on show for percentage of game completion, hardly anything to boast to your buddies about. However, it doesn’t make or worsen the experience in any way, becoming more of a pointless add-on we quickly forgot.
While only five or six hours long, Limbo is a truly addictive experience that makes you feel very unsettled about the idea of death. Clever game design and intelligent puzzles mix well with the somber tone PlayDead worked hard to express, creating a journey that might end fast, but stays with you for a very long time after.
Review Score 5/5
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